Disney is taking its live-action Beauty and the Beast into full YA territory.
Two sources confirm to EW that the author/screenwriter/director of indie teen bible Perks of Being a Wallflower Stephen Chbosky will step aboard to script a new draft of Beauty, adapted from its 1991 animated form to an updated live-action version. The news follows the June announcement that Bill Condon, who most recently directed Twilight’s final two chapters, would helm the new version that will include music from the iconic animated feature as well as Disney’s long-running Broadway musical. The original draft was written by Evan Spiliotopoulos (Hercules, Tinkerbell and the Lost Treasure).
Disney declined to comment on the news. But it’s clear that the studio is looking to capitalize on the success it found earlier this year with the Angelina Jolie film Maleficent, which grossed $240 million in the U.S. and more than $500 million overseas.
Disney is also trying to maintain the upper hand over Warner Bros. Beauty project, which in recent months stalled after Guillermo del Toro announced, also in June, that he was no longer going to direct the film. Warner Bros. said then that it still plans to move forward with the movie—which, coincidentally, is intending to feature Perks star Emma Watson as the book-loving Belle—after it finds a new director. Whether or not she stays in the film without del Toro helming the project remains to be seen. (As of this post, WB has yet to announce any update to the project.)
It’s not a crazy idea to think that Watson, who has a close working relationship with Chbosky, would somehow jump to the Disney project should the WB movie fall apart. Watson and Chbosky had plans to re-team on the adaptation of Adena Halpern’s novel While We’re Young, which Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter (Fault in our Stars) revised last year, but according to a Fox spokesman, the studio is not moving forward on the film.
Though Watson, who most recently appeared at the United Nations to announce a new gender equality project as the Goodwill Ambassador for U.N. Women, has a very full dance card of late. The 24-year-old best known as Hermione from the Harry Potter franchise, is in pre-production on Whiplash director Damien Chazelle’s next project, La-La Land, an indie musical set in Los Angeles. And it was announced Monday that she will star opposite Daniel Bruhl (Rush) in Florian Gallenberger’s Chilean thriller, Colonia.